Monday’s Concord state house committee hearings included a late-afternoon hearing for the “UBER” bill, HB1697-FN and I was there to speak and record the hearing. The bill proposes state regulations for “Transporation Network Companies”, which is legal-speak for companies like UBER, that provide connections between people who want to share rides.
While the ideal “level playing field” is to have zero regulations for transportation across all of NH, we can’t expect these politicians to do that at this point. So, having one set of regulations for the entire state would be better than a patchwork of them across the different towns and cities, which would make compliance for companies like UBER very difficult. If that ends up happening, UBER may just decide jumping through various hoops for each town isn’t worth it, and pull out of NH entirely.
Whether UBER pulls out or not, the bill proposes a fee of $5,000 for any TNC be paid to the “Department of Safety”. This fee will definitely be a barrier to entry for new companies who want to compete with UBER. Not only that, but technology quickly outpaces government, as UBER has show, and Arcade City is going to continue to prove. As I point out in my testimony, the newly announced Arcade City is not going to be a corporate entity, so how is government going to get their precious fee from a computer program?
Of particular note in the video is the apparently dishonest testimony from David Weeks, the owner of Concord’s D&B Taxi. Weeks claims he took multiple experimental UBER rides in Manchester – one allegedly didn’t show up, the next driver couldn’t speak English, and the third driver had a bottle of beer between his legs.
On his fourth and final alleged UBER ride, he claims the driver, when asked, quoted a fare of $27 and asked for a tip or told him to get out! Even if Weeks were telling the truth about his first few rides, his fourth story drips of dishonesty. Now, I’m a newer UBER driver, but as far as I know, the driver isn’t presented with the amount the ride is worth in advance. We only decide to accept the ride based on their pickup location.
Second, though this alleged UBER driver in question could have been breaking the rules, the UBER training video makes it CLEAR that UBER does not require tipping. Yes, drivers can accept tips, but UBER riders are well-aware that tips are not required with UBER, so it would be stupid for an UBER driver to demand one.
Amusingly, in the beginning of his testimony, Weeks claims he doesn’t have an axe to grind! Anyone paying attention knows at the very least, that’s not the truth.
After Weeks’ testimony, Free UBER‘s Dennis Acton calls Weeks’ claims, “preposterous” and proceeds to discuss the barrier to entry that is the $5,000 fee. He also says the bill contains too much regulation and that riders should decide, not government.